WINNIPEG, MB - How many times have you sat waiting at your destination for your bags to come off the carousel and wondered to yourself why your bag always seems to be the last one? If you're tired of waiting on your luggage, or broke from paying the extra fees for your checked bags, you should consider joining the carry-on club.
There may not be an actual club, but more and more travellers are learning to travel light, going on one week, two weeks and even longer vacations with a simple carry-on bag and a personal item. How do they do it? It's all about planning and packing what you need, not for what you might need. Some experts suggest you line up all the clothes you intend to pack and then take half. While you may not need to go to those lengths, we do have some useful tips.
The first thing you will need to do is check your airline's rules for carry-on luggage. There are often size limitations and weight restrictions that vary by airline. Most airlines also allow passengers to carry one personal item, e.g. purse or messenger bag. Know the rules before you pack.
Hard and fast rules to packing light
1. Important papers. Keep these in your personal item and in an easy to reach location. Check that you have everything you need: passport, other travel documents you may need like visas, local ID, boarding passes, petty cash, travel itinerary (including hotel information). It's always a good idea to take a photo of these items on your phone and to leave copies with a relative at home in the event they get lost.
2. If it's bulky or heavy, wear it. Jackets, big sweaters, jeans and your most cumbersome shoes/boots should be worn on the plane.
3. Shoes. Don't bring more than two pairs of shoes. Wear the bulkier pair and pack the smaller pair.
4. Toiletries. Bring just the essentials and buy the rest at your destination. It's often cheaper anyways. A small package of face wipes, a toothbrush, and a small tube of toothpaste is all you need. Bottles of shampoos, sunscreens, hairsprays, etc. use up valuable real estate in your bag and increase its weight. If you decide to pack toiletries, you must remember that you are only allowed to bring 100 ml bottles, and they must all fit in one small plastic bag (this includes your toothpaste).
5. Medications. The space required will depend on your needs. Place what you can in your personal item or small pockets and spaces. Depending on where you are going, don't bring just in case over-the-counter medications; buy them at your destination if they're needed.
6. Electronics. These items are starting to demand more and more space - phones, chargers, cameras for the photo buff, tablets for the kids and a travel adaptor depending on your destination. Even small laptops for those planning to work or who can't be separated from them. Choose wisely and bring what you need and will use. Power bars are a very useful item worth packing; plugs are often in short supply, and they will allow you to charge all your electronics in one spot.
7. Clothes. Here is a great guideline suggested by several pack-light experts. One week's worth of clothing should consist of : 4 short-sleeved shirts, 4 long-sleeved shirts, 2 pairs pants/shorts or skirts, 1 pair gym shoes/comfortable walking shoes or sandals, 1 pair gym shorts, 1 swimsuit, 6 underwear and 6 pairs of socks, 1 scarf/sarong, sunglasses and glasses/contacts as needed. You can alter the guideline to suit your needs. Some women prefer dresses and tights and can exchange them for other items on the list, depending on the material they may even end up saving more space. If you intend to spend your days on the beach or poolside, you will want to bring a couple bathing suits.
8. Rain. If inclement weather is likely, bring a light, packable rain jacket.
9. Other stuff. A luggage lock, water bottle, pen, notepad, reading material or things to do, a device to weigh your luggage and snacks if there's room.
1. Leave no space unfilled. Roll small items in a bag and pack them in shoes. Fold items to fit in between the bars of roller bags or side pockets of backpacks. If you're wearing a jacket, fill the pockets if you need to.
2. Rolling versus folding. Some travellers are experts at rolling clothing, and the method can save space. You can stack rolls or stand them upright in your bag. See which method works best for you.
You now have the knowledge you need to travel without checking a bag. Once you experience the freedom, you will enjoy being unencumbered with luggage, and with practice will become better at packing.
By Tania Moffat for The Hub magazine and Manitoba Post
Photos - The Hub